Speed Freaks

Link To This One

I have to assume that this gag would make sense to big “Flash” fans, but what good does that do me? Based on what I know thus far, Batton’s gym closed during the pandemic, so he wandered over to Atomik Komix HQ, where, as fate would have it, they had a treadmill he could use. And no one at AK seems to mind or finds this peculiar in any way. On the contrary, they actually seem fine with it, engaging in wry banter with Batton as opposed to saying something like “what the f*ck are you doing?” or something like that.

And if his gym closed due to the pandemic, is it wise for him to be wheezing all over a bunch of people (three of them elderly, no less) he doesn’t even really know? And what about the potential liability issues here? If Batton snaps a tibia or dies on that thing, the cops and lawyers will definitely be asking questions about AK’s incredibly lax security, and those questions won’t be wry.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

39 responses to “Speed Freaks

  1. spacemanspiff85

    I love that Atomik Komix apparently kept right on working like normal during the pandemic, even though half their staff are approaching the century mark, if they’re not already there. And one actually did come back from the dead once already.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      And despite the fact that most comic artists work from home as a matter of course, pandemic or no pandemic.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        The comic books bullpen is central to Tom Batiuk’s fantasies. He thinks if he gets the job, he’ll get access to the Holiest of Holy Places. Where other comic book industry-approved artists will all agree with him on How To Comic Book Correctly. That it doesn’t really exist is no obstacle to his desires. And anyone who’s ever had an office job knows that co-workers aren’t always on the same page about things, or even get along.

        This is another reason TB has no interest in self-publishing comic books: he wouldn’t get his precious bullpen. I imagine he’s made inquiries, and his freelance artists have told him they’d rather be eaten alive by fire ants than hang around with him all day.

        Batiuk seems like he’d be a terrible boss: cheap, demanding and disrespectful, but wants to hang around with you all day and talk about nothing but comic books. *His* comic books.

        • Gerard Plourde

          You’re right that the bullpen is central to TomBa’s fantasy about how comic books are created. And I think that he thinks that what comic book artists do all day is to sit around and talk about nothing but comic books (when not working their tails off to meet deadlines – but I guess the Cosmic Treadmill solves any time allocation problem). The idea that a writer has to do anything more than use one’s imagination to create product (for example, research a topic in any way) was debunked in his October 22, 2016 blog post by none other than Flash Freeman himself. (Batom Comics- The Untold History Part 11).

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Batiuk not only wants a career path that most kids grow out of by age 10, he expects that career path to be exactly like a 10-year-old thinks it is. Even people who get their “dream job” in life find out its a lot different than what they imagined. Not this guy! Batiuk imagines everyone is exactly like him, and will all want to be his buddy and do everything the way he thinks it should.

            I remember the “women in comic books” biographical stories posted here during the Ruby Lith era. Some of them didn’t even like comic books that much. Or it was one of many things they did. Or it was just a way to pay the rent. To say nothing of disagreements between collaborators who have different ideas how the story should go. Or managerial/industry pressures. Or some co-workers just being assholes. None of which is permitted is exist in the tightly-controlled fantasy world of Funky Winkerbean.

            There’s a notion that stand-up comedians make bad improvisers, because they’re used to being in control of everything about their performance. In improv, you have to listen and collaborate to get good results. Tom Batiuk has this problem, and it’s why he’d be terrible in the job he wants so badly. He didn’t just expect to get hired by Marvel when he was a 25-year-old nobody; he expected to be immediately promoted to head writer of Spider-Man, because he was just so talented. That attitude will not get you far in life. Especially when you’re also ignorant of the rules you’d have to follow.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Comic books are an essential industry. This society needs comic books more than crackheads need crack.

  2. William Thompson

    What’s with the warning? Does this treadmill speed up on its own, to the point where it engages in the machine version of projectile vomiting? Is this a feature meant to give the user a brief sensation of running at Flash-like speeds before smacking into a wall? Is there any hope we can use this brilliant feature to eliminate everyone at Atomik Komix?

  3. RudimentaryLathe?

    How is this a joke? How is this anything at all?

    • Sourbelly

      I have the same question, RL. Is “heads up” some sort of Comic Book reference, or pun, or something? Or is it a level of wryness we’ve never encountered before? Given the quality of “jokes” over the past few decades, I’d guess it’s none of the above.

    • Y. Knott

      This doesn’t even rise to the level of ‘filler’.

      In fact, this doesn’t rise to any level at all. Three completely blank panels would be more interesting.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Perhaps a “Flash” reader will help us out here and explain this joke, or clarify whether it’s even a joke at all. I have to imagine that Flash aficionados and big FW fans have very little overlap, that’s a really small cross-section of people right there. If 0.0000001% percent of the population reads FW regularly and 0.000001% are regular “Flash” readers, that’s like two people, and one of them is the guy who writes this shit and I seriously doubt HE’LL make things any clearer anytime soon.

    • Hitorque

      It’s just an excuse to use the term “speed force”

  4. billytheskink

    Didn’t “Batton enters the Speed Force” win the Most Cheer-worthy Moment at the same Academy Awards where Marianne Winters Less took home the best actress award for Lisa’s Story?

  5. TFHackett

    Epicus, please check your email, thanks!

    • ComicBookHarriet

      I feel like a kid trying to figure out if mommy and daddy are fighting…

      • Epicus Doomus

        LOL nah, just some boring old admin stuff! What would Batom call WordPress? Wordbash? Wordsquash?

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          It wouldn’t have a name, because everyone would refuse to use it. You’ve got Les (too morally pure), Dinkle (old, still uses a typewriter), Lillian (old, hates technology), the entire Atomik Komix company (doesn’t even have a website), one-armed Skip (ran a newspaper like it was still 1978), Holly (hawked a book once, it was never mentioned again), and Pmm (bitter at never getting to be a author, which is perfectly valid considering the world she lives in).

  6. Green Luthor

    Okay. So. Back in the Silver Age, The Flash (Barry Allen) had a “cosmic treadmill” that allowed him to travel through time. Basically, it used the idea that if you went really, really fast (i.e., faster than light), you could time travel. (Yeah, the physics are questionable to say the least, but… Flash comics were never known for their adherence to the laws of physics. Plus, it makes a lot more sense than “travels through time because the old plastic in the helmet was out-gassing”.) So Flash would run at FTL speeds, but because he was on a treadmill, he could do so and still stay in the same place while running. (Again: comic book physics.) Atomik Komix has a replica of the cosmic treadmill in their office, that actually functions as a treadmill, for… reasons? (That reason probably being “Chester has more money than brains”.) (Also, don’t ask why it was a “cosmic” treadmill as opposed to a “temporal” treadmill, because I haven’t a clue.)

    Later, after Barry Allen died (like Phil Holt, he got better) and his former sidekick Wally West took over as Flash, a concept known as the “Speed Force” was introduced. It’s… some kind of interdimensional mumbo-jumbo that gives speedsters their powers. Or something. To be honest, I’m not even sure the writers were ever 100% on what it was exactly. But if you go TOO fast, you would “enter” the Speed Force (I guess shifting you to the other dimension or whatever), with the possibility that you might not be able to get back out.

    “Thanks for the heads up” refers to… um… nothing, really. It’s just a straight forward comment one would make when told about something that could possibly happen. It’s not a discernible punchline as far as I can determine, and not a reference to anything that I’m aware of? (On the other hand, it’s actual an actual English phrase, so… good a call, Tom?)

    So… that’s what Boy Lisa and Batton Thomas Creator of Three O’Clock High are blathering about here. Now that you understand the references, I’m sure it’s just as hilarious as it was when you didn’t understand a single word they said.

    • TFHackett

      Atomik Komix has a replica of the cosmic treadmill in their office, that actually functions as a treadmill, for… reasons?

      It’s a souvenir of Darin and Pete’s bromantic visit to the Flash Museum in Central City five years ago…

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        So they acquired a prop replica from a museum… and they’re just loaning it to randos to exercise on? And let me guess, it’s still in gem mint condition.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Oh, and I love that there’s a door labeled “Flash Museum Merchandise Pickup.” Because in Tom Batiuk’s fatuous world, the Flash Museum gift shop does so much business that it needs a dedicated door for customers to pick up oversized items. The replica cosmic treadmills are just flying out the door! Grow up, Tom.

      • William Thompson

        Batty Tom can use the treadmill to go back and visit Dullin’s family. Or have Jessica and Skylark been seen since then?

    • ComicBookHarriet

      The Speed Force does serve an interesting function for DC speedsters, in that it’s an easy way to handwave all the friction and physics issues that people dissect when coming up those kinds of characters. (Their bones would shatter! They would burst into flames! The chemical reactions in their bodies wouldn’t keep up!)

      For a while after Infinite Crisis when a bunch of DC speedsters tried to pull Superboy Prime into the Speed Force to trap him there, it was absorbed by a single speedster Bart Allen, and poor old Jay Garrick could only run just a little slower than the speed of sound.

      But my favorite of the Cosmic Treadmill shenanigans is when a drunk Booster Gold crashed his time sphere into Barry and Wally.

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        What’s always bothered me about the Speed Force: in the 1960s, there were at least two stories in which the Flash raced Superman to see who truly was “the Fastest Man Alive.” As far as I know, the Speed Force isn’t part of the Man of Steel’s world. Nor of those like him such as the Martian Manhunter, Mon-El or Ultra Boy when he’s channeling his ultra-energy into super-speed.

        By the way, the “Fastest Man Alive” question was settled in *World’s Finest* #199 (cover date December 1970). The late great Neal Adams drew the cover.

  7. J.J. O'Malley

    Hey, guys, how’s everybody been? I’m been taking in easy for the last few weeks over in “Hagar the Horrible” and I figured, now that it’s a new month, it would be safe to return to FW and see what’s…oh, sweet merciful crap, what is this nonsense supposed to be?

    Hey, I bet I know what’s going to happen: Batton Thomas, The Creator of the Comic Strip “Three O’Clock High,” is going to overdo it on the Cosmic Treadmill, accidentally trigger the machine’s time travel capabilities, and vanish from the Atomik Bullpen with an asterisk-like blip. He will then find himself transported back to Westview circa 1956, where during a two-week arc he will meet a young Tony Montoni as he is setting up his new pizza shop and suggest that Tony add a mechanical band box to the seating area; visit Westview High and ask Lisa’s grandmother if there’s a history of cancer in her family; and then enter Captain E-Z’s Confectionery, where for some inexplicable reason a gem mint copy of Detective Comics #27 is still sitting in the magazine spinner rack after 17 years. Sadly, the magazine will get left behind when the treadmill returns Thomas, The Creator of the Comic Strip “Three O’Clock High,” to 2022, but it will be recovered by a young Harry L. Dinkle, who promptly trades it for a box of band candy and soon discovers he can’t live without the sweet taste of fundraising chocolate. Upon awakening in the present, Batton, The Creator of You-Know-What, will learn that he dreamt the whole journey, as Durwin and Mopey explain that the oil they used on the treadmill gave off hallucinatory gas fumes. The story ends with a stray mouse hopping on the machine and immediately vanishing into the mists of time.

    Naaah, that all sounds too ridiculous to ever see print.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Welcome back JJ, I laugh at your comments over on CK.

      Yes, I can see that happen. We will see that old spinner rack in that old Akron drugstore and all sorts of other trivial nostalgia that only Batty cares about.

  8. Banana Jr. 6000

    What”s going on in today’s strip? Tom Batiuk is giving himself the comic book writing job that real life wouldn’t, and he’s too lazy to give himself. That’s all that matters.

    • be ware of eve hill

      This story arc is bizarre. I feel as if I’m barging into one of Batty’s private sessions with his psychiatrist.

      Let’s count the issues:
      1). With Batton Thomas, Batty is inserting himself into his comic strip.
      2.) Batton Thomas is the creator of ‘Three O’Clock High’ (in case you didn’t know). A comic very closely related to the early days of Funky Winkerbean.
      3). The setting is in an imaginary comic book company of his creation. DC and Marvel wouldn’t hire Batty, so he took his football home and created his own, if only in his mind.
      4.) Mopey Pete has been shoehorned into the job that Batty feels he deserved all those years ago. He is very successful, just as Batty imagines he would have been.
      5.) Chester Hagglemore is the owner of a comic book company. The job Batty most likely dreams he had. A dream job Batty possibly believes he would have had by now if hired all those years ago.
      6.) Batton, Batty’s avatar, has ventured into the dream comic book environment Batty was denied. It feels like I’m watching a little girl serving tea to her stuffed animals. This story arc feels childish.
      7.) The comic treadmill and the speed force are concepts taken from stories of the Silver Age comic book, The Flash. A niche interest of his that he is forcing on his readers.

      This is just weird!

      Please tell me this isn’t going to be another four-week story arc. Lord, grant me strength.

  9. Rusty Shackleford

    My work has workout equipment for us to use. Us being employees only.

  10. robertodobbs

    “Oiling” a treadmill doesn’t make it go faster, it just stops squeaking. The speeds are regulated.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Unless this is one of those super cheap non motorized treadmills that work by the action of the runner. I can see in my mind’s eye where oiling one of those, and thus reducing the resistance, could potentially cripple an elderly man who wasn’t expecting the change.

      I love my mind’s eye…always showing me satisfying images.

      • robertodobbs

        I love the image. You’re right, but the non-motorized ones (at least that I’ve seen) require holding onto handles for resistance to make your feet make the treadmill move. No handles on this one. I’m spending my time overthinking something that doesn’t need to be overthought, I’m sucked into the FW vortex!

  11. Maxine of Arc

    I clicked over to this strip and LITERALLY just heaved a weary, heavy-lidded sigh.

  12. Banana Jr. 6000

    The Funkyblog finally got around to acknowledging the death of Neal Adams. Only 4 days after he died. That’s better turnaround time than I predicted.

    • Y. Knott

      Two brief chats at a con; after that, Neal would only interact with Tom if a professional commission was involved.

      This totally tracks.

    • I guess he waited a few days to make sure that he hadn’t faked his death.

  13. be ware of eve hill

    Funky Winkerbean, where the speed force meets the comic farce.

  14. I have to assume that, if Durwood and Pete purchased this thing as a “replica” of the cosmic treadmill from the Flash Museum, that it was not intended to be used as an operational treadmill, as it does not seem to be equipped with any of the standard safety features that you would see on a standard treadmill. For liability reasons, I would expect that the “treads” are either locked into place, or are restricted in movement so that you can’t exceed a very slow pace when using.